When you think of hoarding, you probably think of mounds of boxes and stacks of yellowing newspapers. If so, you don’t have the wrong idea; in fact, hoarding does look like that. However, it can be more serious and dangerous than that.
Hoarding can contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), which leads to several health issues.
Because understanding the problem is the first step toward preventing it, here we’ll focus on 3 common ways hoarding negatively affects your IAQ:
- Moldy items around the house
- Poor ventilation/ blocked vents
- Hidden problems
The following are just a few of the adverse health effects of poor IAQ:
- Worsened asthma
- Shortness of breath
- Irritation in the eyes, nose and throat
- Chronic fatigue
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consider the air you breathe and whether your hoarding habits play a part.
If mold has developed on something you can’t toss easily (say, your carpet or drywall) it’s best to have a mold remediation professional visit. If it has grown on your smaller, individual belongings (clothes, picture frames, shoes, etc.), simply throw them out. Or, depending on their value, look into having them restored.
If you hoard, it seems impossible to dispose of items you own, even if they’re no longer needed or valuable. Moldy items; actual garbage; and old, expired cleaning or personal care products all contribute to an unhealthy living environment.
If there’s a moldy item in your home, mold spores are released into the indoor air and make their way throughout it—without you even realizing it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve boxed the item and stored it; you’re still at risk of inhaling hazardous mold spores.
Lack of ventilation
If there are boxes piled on boxes and other various belongings crowding every room in the house, it becomes difficult to even get through the door.
It’s not only inconvenient and a hindrance if there’s ever a fire, but these boxes also block air vents and windows inside the home, leading to a lack of ventilation and, consequently, poor IAQ.
When your indoor air isn’t circulating, pollutants—black mold spores, VOCs, dust, etc.—tend to accumulate. You must have working and sufficient ventilation throughout the home to avoid this and breathe easy.
Another way hoarding can negatively affect your indoor air quality is when you can no longer see problems that arise. If there’s so much stuff in your house that you can’t see spills or leaky pipes, they’ll have the time and the opportunity to develop into bigger problems.
For instance, if your window is leaking but it’s blocked by all the items you’ve accumulated, chances are you won’t see the leak within 24 to 48 hours. If you don’t see it and repair the problem within 24 to 48 hours, that moisture, with the right temperature and a food source (i.e. building material surrounding the window), create ideal breeding ground for mold.
Getting help for hoarding
If you think your hoarding habits could be affecting the air you breathe, take action and get help to reduce the clutter in your home.